Sketchy storytelling mars anthology’s Nora episodeBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
EVERYTIME we get to watch a new performance by Nora Aunor, we thank our lucky stars, because we can still recall the years when she was thought to be an over-the-hill has-been by many producers.
Among Nora’s major boosters this season are her resolute believers over at TV5, so it was no surprise to hear that they had tapped the acclaimed senior star to play the lead role in the Sept. 22 telecast of the channel’s “Untold Stories” program.
Being an inveterate Nora booster myself, I made sure I caught the episode, which cast Nora as a nun who left her order when she fell in love with a younger man—who, however, turned out to be a faithless cad.
Lesson learned, however: It turned out that not even Nora was able to make thespic sense of the drama’s muddled material and manner of presentation. In fact, her presence may have added to the problem, because some of the other people involved in the show could have blithely deluded themselves into thinking that her mere presence already assured the success of their dramatic endeavor.
Alas, it did not. The presentation was severely hampered by its episodic progression and presentation. Its “narrator” device was resorted to in order to hop, skip and jump through the “unimportant” parts of its protagonist’s long life story, but it also made for extremely sketchy and disunified storytelling, which was too passive and “self-aware” to genuinely surprise, involve and move viewers.
Adding to the sketchy drama’s woes was the fact that many of its scenes involved the nun and her mother. This turned out to be awkward, because Nora herself is no spring chicken, so the scenes with her mother came off as most ungainly, because viewers had to sit through long exchanges between two very mature women, one trying to pass herself off as the older actress’ child—!
Of course, mature women like Nora have mothers, that isn’t our quibble with the ungainly pairing—it’s just that, when the mother was going on and on and on, advising her daughter how to live her life, this viewer felt that the motherly advice should have been given decades ago! The TV drama’s running time, therefore, could have been used to develop the protagonist’s other relationships, instead of too redundantly focusing on the ungainly mother-daughter bond.
On the plus side, we note that Nora has dropped many of her distracting acting mannerisms of old, like her “tremble-chin” rendering of her characters when they were extremely distraught and emotionally stressed.
But, the episode’s lack of clear focus and structure left her with precious few opportunities to “build” her character cogently to her clarifying and liberating rising action, climax and catharsis.
We hope that Nora’s next TV outing won’t be as frustrating for everyone concerned. She’s too good a talent to be used in this muddled and spendthrift fashion.
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